Thursday 23 February 2017

Hodgson says top stars will feature in rest of Europa campaign

Glenn Moore

fernando torres was controversially omitted from Liverpool's Europa League team in midweek but he and Steven Gerrard will be featuring in the competition from now on, Roy Hodgson confirmed yesterday.

Hodgson, who reached the final with Fulham last season, said: "We're at the knockout stage now and it will be important to put out our best team every time if we want to go further in the competition."

Liverpool meet Sparta Prague in the last 32, with either Poland's Lech Poznan or Portugal's Braga barring the way to the quarter-finals should they progress. "I think it's a very good draw," said Hodgson, citing the ease of travelling and scouting opponents.

Prague include Marek Matejovsky, who once scored a stunning goal for Reading at Anfield, and the former West Ham United defender Tomas Repka.

Demanding

Manchester City face a more demanding schedule, with Greek club Aris Salonika their last-32 opponents followed by a potential trip to either Ukraine, to play Dynamo Kiev, or Turkey's Besiktas. The latter was the venue of violent clashes between supporters at a Turkish league match recently which required the use of police baton charges and tear gas to break up.

First City must defeat Aris, who knocked holders Atletico Madrid out in the group stages and are managed by Hector Cuper, the hottest managerial talent in the game a decade ago.

City's football administrator Brian Marwood said: "It's two former Inter Milan coaches going head to head and I'm looking forward to it. It will be a difficult period, I think we play Manchester United before the away trip, but as we get close we will prepare accordingly."

Rangers have a tricky draw against Sporting Lisbon, with Lille or PSV Eindhoven awaiting in the next round. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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